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Voting Rights

The MUUSJA Voting Rights Group and the MN League of Women Voters Present

Sunday, March 15 at 1:00pm 
First Universalist Church of Minneapolis -- Chalice Room
3400 Dupont Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Did you know that 75% of Minnesotans who have lost the right to vote because of a past criminal conviction are no longer--or have never been--behind bars? Rather, they are living in the community, working and paying taxes, just like the rest of us. Join us for an educational event about the Restore the Vote movement, whose goal is to help pass legislation this session to restore voting rights to citizens completing felony convictions while living in the community. The event will feature a speech by Mark Haase, leader of Restore the Vote Coalition and co-chair of the Second Chance Coalition. A light lunch will be provided.

For more information, contact Jenny Thomas, jjewell.thomas@gmail.com or 612-920-4246


· See the Jan 29 press conference here.

· Chief author Rep. Tony Cornish interviewed by House Media, talking about his personal experience and plans for hearing the bill--a must watch and share!
· MinnPost's overview of Restore the Vote
· City Pages' coverage of Restore the Vote
· St. Cloud Times Letter to the Editor by Walter Hudson and Karl Eggers of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Liberty MN


MUUSJA's Voting Rights Working Group

MUUSJA/AUW Voting Rights Working Group 2014-2015 Plan

Group Mission

1. Protect and promote voting rights, access and participation for all citizens.
2. Work to have all vote counts be accurate, verifiable, secure and transparent.


• Jenny Thomas: (612) 920-4246 jjewell.thomas@gmail.com
• Cathy Pernu (612) 721-2088 catpurrnew@msn.com

Results from Past Years

• 2013-2014: MUUSJA is member of Restore the Vote Coalition working to extend voting rights to all citizens with felony convictions living in the community. MUUSJA is a member of Voting Rights Coalition that supported passage of No Excuse Absentee Voting and Online Voter Registration.
• 2011-2012: worked with CEIMN, LWVMN and Our Vote Our Future coalition to help defeat voter restriction amendment in MN.
• 2010: published "Facts About Ineligible Voting" report; organized program on Election Day Registration and Voter ID at General Assembly (GA) in Minneapolis.
• 2009: organized 2 programs on democracy at GA in SLC; passed AIW encouraging federal reform.
• 2008: partnered with Election Day Community Coalition organized by Minneapolis Urban League; registered over 500 voters in precincts with historically low-voter turnout.
• 2007: passed Response Resolution at GA in Portland, OR to promote learning on racism in voting.
• 2006: began as working group, eventually including members from First Univ, Groveland, MN Valley, FUS. Have held educational programs throughout State (audiences of 5-450 people).

Goals for 2014/2015

1. TURNOUT - promote high voter turnout in November 2014 among UUs and overall. Join efforts for voter registration and engagement, especially where historically low-turnout.
2. ADVOCACY & EDUCACTION: support passage of Restore the Vote coalition 2015 legislation.
3. PARTICIPATION - promote UU service as election judge (including high school students) & CEIMN observation volunteer.

Long-term Election Goals in MN:

o Voter-Marked Paper Ballots (protect)
o Election Day Voter Registration (protect)
o Best Practices in Audits and Recounts (improve in MN as opportunities exist)
o High voter turnout (improve in MN as opportunities exist)
o Felon voting rights restoration & engagement in communities of color (pass in MN)
o Publicly financed elections (pass in MN)

Community Partners

• Voting Rights Coalition (VRC) associated with MN Council of Nonprofits (MCN): support their agenda to promote pro-democracy election legislation and rules and turnout in MN.
• Restore the Vote Coalition part of VRC focused on felon voter restoration and engagement.
• Citizens for Election Integrity MN (CEIMN.org): help with citizen observations of audits, recounts, equipment testing, educational programs, national communication of Audit and Recount Best Practices Reports, etc.
• League of Women Voters MN (lwvmn.org): collaborate on voter engagement and educational programs on elections issues.
• MN Faith-Based Groups: Jewish Community Action, Isaiah, MN Council of Churches, etc.
• UU SANs: for national issues and AIW (related to reforms for Citizens United)

Current Issues

National Popular Vote (NPV)

There has been a lot of discussion in the local press recently about National Popular Vote (NPV), but you should know that the leaders of MUUSJA's Voting Rights group are strongly opposed to this concept. Watch for a program to discuss this complicated issue in the coming months. 
What is NPV? An interstate compact that effectively controls the Electoral College by having states commit to allocating their Presidential electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

Who supports NPV? The concept has been endorsed by several progressive organizations but we believe that support will not hold up to serious scrutiny. The issue is much like Voter ID that seems reasonable on the surface, but is much more complex with serious, negative consequences.

Why oppose NPV?
  • Untrustworthy States: Other states do not have the verifiable, transparent, accurate elections we have in Minnesota. Until they do, we believe that Minnesota should not change the allocation of our Presidential electoral votes to align with states determined by dubious election systems. NPV would mean that unlawful activity like intimidation or false challenging could be anywhere, widely dispersed, not just concentrated in a few swing states, making it much harder to monitor and protect against.
  • Provisional Ballots: Other states have millions of provisional ballots that are never counted for various reasons. Typically, they would not change the allocation of the state electoral votes but the total number nationally is sometimes greater than the margin of victory in the national popular vote. Uncounted absentee ballots would also be challenged, vote by vote. All uncounted ballots would be contested with NPV, creating reviews and court cases that would be very difficult to resolve quickly.
  • Recounts: Minnesotans know better than most about close elections and recounts, and we do them well. However, there are no provisions for how to handle close elections with NPV. Any recounts would be based on individual state law, which his highly variable. A national recount, with the millions of uncounted ballots, and lawsuits in various states could increase the likelihood of the courts deciding elections, not reduce it.

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